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Sales at restaurants surpass pre-pandemic levels in 2022, says Statistics Canada

By Canadian Pizza   

News Business and Operations

2-minute Pizzeria Poll

Ottawa – Statistics Canada recently released data showing operators in restaurants, food services and drinking places continued to recover in 2022, as most restrictions were lifted by mid-year and Canadians felt more comfortable going to restaurants and bars. Operating revenue increased by almost one-quarter year over year to $84.2 billion in 2022, up 7.4 per cent from 2019, just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Three years after the start of the pandemic, sales at full-service restaurants and limited-service eating places exceeded pre-pandemic levels, while sales at special food services and drinking places had not yet fully recovered.

Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia reported the largest increases in dollar terms in 2022, accounting for about three-quarters of national sales.

Operating expenses for the subsector increased in 2022 to $80.7 billion, or 95.7 per cent of operating revenue, up from $63.6 billion (93.8 per cent) in 2021. With operating expenses growing at a faster pace than operating revenues, the subsector recorded a smaller profit margin in 2022 (4.3 per cent).


The cost of goods sold remained the largest operating expense at food services and drinking places in 2022, accounting for just over one-third of total operating expenses (up 0.3 per cent from 2021). The next largest operating expense was salaries, wages, commissions and benefits (32.6 per cent), unchanged from a year earlier.

Fewer Canadians ordering takeout or delivery

E-commerce sales as a proportion of total sales declined by 2.4 to 9.8 per cent in 2022, as customers returned to restaurants and relied less on takeout meals. Nevertheless, this was more than double the e-commerce sales reported in 2019. The share of companies reporting e-commerce sales increased from approximately one-third in 2019 to just over half in 2022. The leading forms of e-commerce sales in 2022 were third-party websites (62.4 per cent) and mobile apps (52.4 per cent).

Alcohol sales up but remain below pre-pandemic levels 

Sales of food and non-alcoholic beverages accounted for 87 per cent of total sales at food services and drinking places in 2022, down from 89.3 per cent in 2021. As customers returned to licensed establishments, the share of alcoholic beverage sales rose from 8.1 per cent in 2021 to 10.2 per cent in 2022, but it remained 1.3 per cent below the pre-pandemic level.

Canadians paying more for food and drinks at restaurants and bars

Canadians were paying more for food purchased from restaurants (+6.7 per cent) and alcoholic beverages served in licensed establishments (+4.2 per cent) in 2022.

Sales at full-service restaurants outpaced sales at limited-service eating places for the first time since 2019

Full-service restaurants contributed the most to the overall decline in operating revenues during the first two years of the pandemic. In 2022, however, sales bounced back by one-third (+33.8 per cent) from the previous year to $38.2 billion, surpassing 2019 levels for the first time since the onset of the pandemic. Operating expenses at full-service restaurants rose at a higher rate (+35.8 per cent) to $36.6 billion, resulting in a 4.3 per cent operating profit margin.

Operating revenue at limited-service eating places (mostly fast-food restaurants) rose 12.1 per cent in 2022 to $37.7 billion, also surpassing 2019 levels. Operating expenses increased 15.7 per cent to $36.2 billion, resulting in an operating profit margin of four per cent.

Food and drink sales continue to grow in 2023

In the 12 months to December 2023, the Monthly Survey of Food Services and Drinking Places reported that sales at food services and drinking places rose 12.9 per cent from a year earlier.

Prices for food purchased from restaurants rose 6.5 per cent in 2023, while prices for alcoholic beverages served in licensed establishments increased 5.3 per cent.

Challenges remained as restaurants, bars and caterers dealt with rising prices, labour shortages and business closures.

To learn more about how businesses are facing these challenges, check out the Canadian Survey on Business Conditions.

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